Trying to sell father's house in Middleton. Smaller starter home, very reasonably priced. Lots of lookers,

Asked by Sue Christiansen, Corpus Christi, TX Wed Oct 8, 2008

no offers. Should I take it off the market for awhile?

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RKB, , Cary, IL
Wed Oct 8, 2008
Sue, both Karen and Pete have good advice below. Middleton currently is (and has been for several years) a hot market, since it is routinely named as one of the best cities in the US. If you are at least getting people in the door, then there must be something about the house that people are finding of interest - perhaps the location alone is enough of an attraction. But as Pete said, the inventory of houses is pretty high right now, so it takes a lot to differentiate your house from all the others on the market. I've seen some realtors give the advice that if you have more than 10 showings but no offers then you need to reduce the price. But in my opinion, that's not true in today's market. Perhaps that gives a quicker sale to the realtor, but with so much inventory right now I think that's short-sighted advice for the seller. The other interesting thing is that with so much inventory, people tend to only look at the houses that have been listed within the last 30 days (or less) because they figure if it was a good enough house at a good enough bargain, someone would have taken it already. So if your house has been listed for more than a month, it is automatically "blacklisted" by a lot of agents and buyers, perhaps unjustifiably so. You might see an abrupt drop-off in the number of showings once you pass that 30-day mark.

I think to answer your question, you need to consider how quickly or how badly you need to sell the home. The market in Dane County is a bit sluggish right now compared to prior years, but things do seem to still be moving gradually. If you are able to wait a while to sell the house, then it might be wise to wait until the market picks up a bit so you can get a decent price for the house. But if it is imperative that you sell it quickly, you may need to cut the price, because it seems like everyone is looking for a bargain right now. There are enough sellers in financial crisis right now that people are able to snap up houses for less than the fair market value, thus driving down the housing prices for all sellers. Why pay $300K for a house when you can buy the foreclosure a few blocks away for $200K? So if you want to get top dollar and aren't in a hurry, you should consider taking it off the market and waiting. If you need to sell it quickly, even if it is at a huge discount, then you may need to make some price cuts.

As Karen suggested, see if you can get feedback from the buyers who have looked at the property to see if you can get any helpful advice, but it may not necessarily help. We had our house listed for six months. We probably had at least 50 showings, but not a single offer. And the feedback we were getting were things that were irrelevant: buyer wants a 2-story instead of a ranch, buyer wants a 3-car garage, buyer wants an exposed basement - these were things that we couldn't possibly offer, so I'm not sure why the agent was even showing them our house. I think that's just the nature of the market right now. Buyers can afford to be really picky, and agents are anxious to show them as many properties as possible in order to make a sale.

Our realtor kept urging more and more price reductions, until we were at a point where we would have had to *PAY* about $20,000 at closing (over and above the sale proceeds) just to get rid of the house, assuming we could even get someone to offer the list price. And - I might add - we were NOT overextended on our mortgage, so it's not like our bad financial decisions were coming back to haunt us. We were affected by the example I gave before - there have been several houses very similar to ours that have either been foreclosed or sold in short sales for significantly less than the assessed value. These comp sales have consequently driven down the value of our home.

We concluded that instead of selling our house at a fire sale price, we could take that $20,000 cash that we would have had to pay at closing, and use it to pay the mortgage and maintenance for the next year, and then we'll still have the house as an asset, rather than being $20,000 in the hole. We're hoping that the market will recover enough in a year that we could actually get a fair price for it. Thankfully, we have the ability to do that while many other homeowners can't.

So anyway, that's my advice. I'm not a professional realtor, but that has been my experience as someone trying to sell a house in Dane County right now.

Good luck!
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Pete Rondello…, Agent, Minocqua, WI
Wed Oct 8, 2008
Hi Sue:

In our area, we're seeing lots of lookers as well. The buyers have SO MUCH inventory to consider, that it's difficult for them to make a decision. You seem to be in the right segment of the market where we are seeing the most activity. Newer FHA and first-time criteria might make this home more attractive now to 1st time buyers. Hang in there; stay in the game!
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Karen Wenzel,…, Agent, Brookfield, WI
Wed Oct 8, 2008
The advice I heard years ago before I got my Real Estate license was "you can't get a Buyer, unless you're in the market". My suggestion to you would be to continually have your Realtor monitor the market conditions in the local Middleton area. If you are getting alot of lookers you are probably within 5% of the price that the property will sell for.
Also have your agent review with you what the comments have been on WHY the buyers have passed on your property. If you can get a pattern of items that continually come up- either put together a plan to address those issues, or price the home competitively that would take the "issues" out of the equation.

Just a thought. All the Best to you
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Mike Adler, Agent, Madison, WI
Tue Feb 3, 2009
Middleton is and has been a hot market for many years. The current market conditions of course has turned almost every market into somewhat of a different market, but Middleton is a highly sought after area. I have sold in the Middleton market for the past 26 years. Pricing your home fairly, competitively, and marketing your property effectively will bring offers. If you wish to discuss the Middleton market, please feel free to contact me at 608-235-5115

Mike Adler
Restaino and Associates
Madison, WI
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Bob Bentley, , Madison, WI
Sun Oct 19, 2008
Hi Sue,
As I've heard time and time again.... "there is a buyer for every home" and "anything is for sale, if it's priced right". You're getting lookers for your dad's house - that's a good thing!

The market in the Middleton area is a bit different than it was a few years ago (just like everywhere else in the country). If homes are priced and marketed right, they are selling. Since you are getting people to look at the house, you've sparked some interest - your marketing must be working - that's good. Have you asked any of the "lookers" for any feedback? That might help you understand why no offers have come in yet.

If your father's house is in the first-time home buyers range, that's great! There are new programs available that are helping first time buyers get the house they've been wanting. From my experience, there are a lot of first time buyers out there, as the selection of homes is good and the prices are too.

Sometimes it takes a bit of time for a house to sell. Keep your chin up and trust in your Realtor to help you understand the market too.

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